Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

Whistleblower officer who took on valley’s business bigwigs transferred

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Posted: May 31, 2014 3:24 pm

J&K government has prematurely transferred the whistle-blower officer who took on the valley’s business bigwigs for adulteration in food and milk products. Dr Shafqat Khan has been transferred eight months after he was posted as Health Officer in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). The transfer has taken place a month after he acted against two top business companies of Kashmir for adulteration in milk and spices and served closure notices.

On Thursday, J&K government in a surprising move issued a circular (No 276HME of 2014) ordering transfer of Dr Khan. The order has been issued by Commissioner Secretary Health and Medical Education Gazanfar Hussain and says that the decision has been “taken in the interest of the administration”.

Sources say the decision to transfer the Health Officer was taken by J&K’s Minister for Health and Medical Education Taj Mohidin. They say that ahead of the elections, the J&K government wants to keep the business houses of the state in good humour and the order has been issued on their demand.

Dr Khan had recently issued a closure notice to the valley’s largest milk supplier Khyber Agro Farms that sells milk by the brand name of Khyber. The notice was issued after the milk samples taken by his office revealed presence of detergent in the milk that is consumed by millions of people in Kashmir everyday. The milk samples were also sent to CFSL Kolkata, which confirmed the presence of detergents in the milk.

Similarly, the unsafe colouring agents were also found in Kanwal Spices that exports spice to different parts of the country. J&K High Court has also taken cognisance of the adulteration and has shown its concern over poor implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act in the state. The court has observed that the presence of detergent in milk samples collected is indicative of milk having been manufactured with constituents highly harmful for human consumption. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 10 crores each to Khyber, Kanwal Spices and a Delhi-based spice company Avon.

The Health Officer had also started a campaign against the Srinagar restaurants that provided sub-standard and unhygienic food to the customers and had ordered closure of many food outlets in Srinagar. The move, sources say, has not gone well with the government especially as the state assembly elections are drawing near and that the ruling coalition is already bracing for an uphill task after their rout in the parliamentary elections.

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